Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Musing on my Waistline

I've been overweight my entire life. I've always known how to loose weight, the mechanics of it, yet every time something just got in the way. Loosing weight is not complicated and it's certainly not rocket science. Loosing weight is as simply as making sure that you eat fewer calories then you use. I would be shocked if anyone did not know this.

Yet as I walk through the grocery store what do I find? Isles filled with weight loss aides, pills, bottles, shakes, any product under the sun to try and circumvent that simple mathematical truth. Calories in < Calories out = Weight loss.

I've tried to loose weight at least a dozen times. I've tried Weight Watchers, I've tried food replacement, I've tried a medically managed wight loss program and I'm tried to just "eat better". I'm still fat. I'm currently using FitDay and It's slowly working.

Let's look at our options shall we?

Weight Watchers: When I was on Weight Watchers I lost weight. However, once I was off weight watchers I gained it right back. Weight Watchers programs run off Points, these Points add a layer of abstraction on what should be a trivial subject. Points hide the fact that fiber and protein are good, carbs and sugars not so good. Weight Watchers doesn't really teach you to be cognizant of what your eating and why. However, Weight Watchers works for some people, a lot of people, just not me.

Weight Watchers makes that simple equation above more complicated then it needs to be.

Food Replacement/Medically Managed Weight loss: I'm going to keep this section brief as in a lot of ways it mirrors my concerns with Weight Watchers adding of course the huge cost of involving a doctor in anything. Food replacement is worse then Weight Watchers as it doesn't even give you the understanding of the protein/fiber good carbs/sugar bad that Weight Watchers gives you. Medically managed weight loss is a scam.

Just "eating better": this diet, also known as the "Watching what I'm eating" and "I'm exercising more" diet is the most common. It also simply does not work. Without a fundamental understanding of what is going in your mouth you can not eat better. It's just not possible. Eating five chicken nuggets instead of ten is a start but it's hardly going to turn you into the hard bodied god you so long to be.

So what do we do? What, in my opinion, works?

Simple, uncomplicated, calorie counting.

I first started to go down this route when The Missus was diagnosed with high blood pressure. She had to start watching her sodium. Everything I picked up off the store shelves had to be scrutinized, every label, every can, bag, parcel, Everything. It was not a quick process. We slowly adapted to a low sodium lifestyle. But something more important had occurred. I had begun looking, really looking, at what I was eating. What I saw bothered me. I did not think I was eating poorly, I was exercising, yet I was still slowly gaining weight.

So, I looked for help. What help I found was FitDay.com it's nothing fancy, and best of all it's free. All the site does is count calories. I was forced to look at what I was eating, impartially, as a column of numbers. If that column of numbers added up to a higher total then I was burning in a day I knew I was going to gain weight. if that column added up to less then what I burned I knew I was going to loose weight. It wasn't complicated, no points to track, just the simple uncomplicated mathematical truth of calories in calories out = weight loss.

Now, it doesn't have to be FitDay. The Missus is using a journal, simple pen and paper, and for her that works. I prefer the website. At the end of the day were both loosing weight, and as opposed to Weight Watchers, Medical programs, food replacement, and all the rest I know know what is going into my mouth. I'm looking for alternatives and day by day I'm loosing weight.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Week One....

Well, I've been dieting for a week. I'm down ten pounds, I know it's mostly water weight but it's still a good feeling. I've been on a fairly severe caloric restriction. According to FitDay.com my base metabolic rate puts me at ~3400 calories a day, they recommend I cut 1400 calories to loose weight. This would mean eating roughly 2000 calories a day. I've been trying to stick to 1700-1900. It seem to be working really well. Also, as an unintended bonus on the days I do "splurge" a 2100 calorie day feels like a lot of food.

Monday, March 23, 2009

It Has Begun

I have begun dieting.

I currently weight 309.2 lbs, with 28-30% body fat. I lift weights, I play Judo, I'm looking to get back into BJJ, I want to start running again. I'm just sick of being fat.

I'm looking to get down to 220 first, then possibly down to 200 but I do not think I can do that without loosing muscle, something I'm simply not willing to do.

I'm using FitDay.com to track my calories and am currently shooting for 2100 with out exercise and an appropriate caloric increase on days I exercise.

I'm also trying to swing away from carbohydrates and increase my protein intake. Currently roughly half to two thirds of my calories come from carbohydrates. This I am told is bad.

Add to the the fact that I'm pre-diabetic and need to be mindful of my blood sugar makes this all the more fun.

My resting heart rate is 61 bpm and my blood pressure hovers around 125/65.

Dear lord what have I started....

Friday, March 20, 2009

Violence In Schools

I've often read articles on the rising tide of violence in schools. These articles paint a bleak and foreboding picture, an apocalyptic futures when our schools turn into battlegrounds for warring tribes of, usually dark skinned, hellions.


Violence is as natural as breathing. We as a species evolved from animals, and to a large extent are still animals. Just because society says violence is wrong does not mean society is right. Violence is not only perfectly natural, it's healthy. So, we have several generations of men and boys who have no idea how to handle aggression. They are told to not fight in the park, the school yard or at home. They are told that violence is wrong without exception. So when these men and boys get angry, when their natural aggressions surfaces they have absolutely no idea how to handle it and the result is all too obvious. Road rage, senseless brawling over parking spaces, kids resorting to knives and guns to stop bullies they are told time and time again not to fight back against.

So now that we have the problem what do we do about it? We stop ignoring the basic human need to fight. I tread once that you don't truly love your children unless you allow them to get punched in the face. I couldn't agree more. School is not a nice place, kids are not nice people, bullies exist and the only thing they respect is violence. So, why not provide a forum for that violence? A ring, gloves, headgear and rules. Make it known from day one that if you have a problem you take it up in the ring after school. Bring boxing and wrestling back to American schools. If you stop treating violence as evil then violence will soon stop being a problem.

Hide it, ignore it, and it only becomes unhealthy. Teach kids that it's an acceptable, controllable response and it will become a healthy response.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Cookie Monster Cupcakes!

A few weeks ago the Missus showed me this link.

It was to a blog post on how to make Cookie Monster Cookies.

So, I decided to try my hand at the recipe given that fact that the Missus was out of town last night and I thought it would be a nice surprise. Now, for a little background. Years ago I made a bet with the Missus, and my wager if I lost the bet was 100 cookie monster cookies from Mrs. Fields. I lost. Since that time I've been chipping away at my debt. Unfortunately Mrs. Fields no longer has cookie monster cookies. So I had to find another way to pay my debt.

Hence the cupcakes.

Also, the Missus has been having a rough time lately, unemployment is really getting to her and the stream of rejections and the stony silence is really wearing on her nerves. Anyway.... I made her cupcakes!

The fruits of my labor....

Now, What did I learn here?

1) Let the cupcake pan cool before removing the cupcakes.
2) More frosting, always buy more frosting.
3) Even if the cupcakes look ugly as sin (they did) frosting covers up the worst blemishes.
4) I am NOT a baker.

Anyway, it was fun and the look on her face totally made it worthwhile.

Aliveness, or Why I Keep Thinking About Guns

Aliveness, it's a strange term. It's even more difficult to explain in the context of Martial Arts. A art should be alive, it should be changing, evolving, and growing. However an art that grows, changes, and evolves may not subscribe to the principle of Aliveness.

matt Thornton of Straight Blast Gym (SBG/SBGi) is the godfather of this term, and has done much to bring it to the forefront. His own words can be found here.

So, what does this have to do with me? Simple. I began my martial training in earnest in Wing Chun. A system espousing deadly efficiency. As I spent more time in the club, and more time sparring I realized that when I fought (badly) I used very little of my training. So I began to look at what I was doing wrong. Around this time I was introduced to the concept of Aliveness. I was shown that in order to use something it had to be practiced and not just in forms. I was introduced to the three I's. Introduction, Isolate, Incorporate.

Take a subject dear to my heart, programming. I wish to learn a new language, I am Introduced to it. This introduction is most likely dead, as in there is no resistance. I read, I ponder but I do not do any coding.

Next I begin looking at same code, writing toy examples, playing around. I debug bits of code, deal with errors and push a little bit. I want to learn the control structures, so I work with just control structures. This is the Isolate stage. I'm writing code, I'm playing, but it's still on a toy scale.

Lastly is the Incorporate phase. In this phase I begin writing code. I begin internalizing the language, making comparisons with what I already know, making it "work" for me. At this point I know the language, or at least parts of it, and can build from there.

So, back to Martial Arts. Wing Chun was stuck in the Introduce and Isolate stages. A technique was shown, and drilled in a non-resisting fashion but it was never tested, it never because an intrinsic part of my game.

I then switched to BJJ, and in doing so found the way things "should" be done. A technique is shown, drilled with increasing resistance then I would attempt to use the technique in free sparring against a resisting opponent. I would fail, get feedback, adjust and try again. My current art, Judo, works the same way.

So, why guns?

Because in training Alive, in competing, and fighting it is eventually natural to realize that there are limits. There are situations that no matter how good I am, no matter how conditioned I am I simply will not be fast enough, strong enough, good enough. So, I look for tools to improve my chances. At first I looked at Kali, and thought that a blade would be the natural equalizer. However, even good Kali is mostly dead. There are few groups willing to train a weapon based art in an Alive manner simply because it hurts!

So why would I carry a blade if I'm not 100% sure that when I need it I will know how to use it? I wouldn't.

So I looked elsewhere. Time and time again I came back to IPSEC and firearms. IPSEC is a competition format where a shooter moves through a course with preset targets, both good targets, and "bad" targets. The shooter is scored based on speed and accuracy, with penalties for shooting the "bad" targets.

It is as close to an Alive weapon art that I have found and frankly, it just sounds like fun!

I don't plan on pursuing a pistol permit any time soon, but it keeps bouncing around the back of my mind and like an itch will one day have to be scratched.

R.I.P. Lappie

Last night, our new cat Soleil chewed through the power cord on my laptop. A month or two ago he did the same to The Missus's laptop cord. At the moment we have one functioning computer. It's a pain to say the least. It's not so much that he did it that upsets me as it is that he did it twice, and replacing the AC adapters is simply something we can not afford.

I have two desktops in the house currently not being used. One needs a video card and hard drive, the other a hard drive. I don't think I can afford to get either machine running.

But I'm going to try.

Looking at Amazon I can get both packs for roughly fifty dollars, if I can get an inexpensive hard drive then we can possibly make things work. I may even buy two drives and get both desktops up and running. You can never have too many machines after all.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I Have a Desire.

I have an aversion to being bored, to sitting idle. Even when the thought of coming home, and wasting an evening, seems like the best idea I could have I know full well it won't last. I keep wanting to learn, keep wanting to push. I used to believe I wanted the recognition, the medals and the certificates, the plaques and accolades but the older I get I know something with increasing clarity. I just want to DO something. I want to look back on my life and like what I see. I want to have stories to tell my grand kids. I want to sit in my old age and recount stories of glories tied to every ache and pain. I want to sit and know I lived. I want to fight, and even if I did not win know I fought. I want to learn everything I can, do anything I can. I want to simply live, and live simply. If I can. I do not yet know what all I will end up doing but I've decided to do something.

Even if it makes no sense.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Little Things

It's Tuesday.

I wish I could say I was tired, wish I had some excuse, some reason, for the mood I'm in. But I don't. It's a lot of little things all bubbling to the surface at the same time.

I've wanted to write about a lot of things but I stop myself as I'm not sure they are things I necessarily want out on the net but tonight I genuinely don't care.

It's coming home to the same clutter, night after night, knowing that even if I devote a day to cleaning within a matter of days it simply won't matter. It's picking up blankets off the floor day after day, picking up to-go bags and dirty dishes, picking up the piles of fur, and paper bits, and refuse that collects in the corners.

It's coming home after Judo to find the Missus sick, again.

It's the never ending shopping list, power bills, credit card bills, loan payments, rent and the looming threat of school loans all threatening to bury me under an avalanche of debt.

It's the vet bills, the cost of food, and litter and the simple, laughable, fact that the cats eat better then we do.

It's wanting to come home and hide after a shitty day at work, or the desire to sit in front of a computer and make little digital monsters die and when I do it, getting yelled at.

It's getting told to wait, always wait.

It's the simple daily grind that I know is going to be every day for the rest of my life.

It's Tuesday.